Chapter 20: The Runaway
The three older Aurelians had retired from the main hall to Darla's chambers so that she could find something a little less torn to wear. Now she sat in Angelus' lap, wearing a black lace dress like some devil's bride, as Spike explained his plan to Angelus.
"Turning the Slayer against the ones she's supposed to protect? Not bad, boy," Angelus said clapping Spike on the shoulder.
Spike tried very hard to look annoyed, but secretly he was rather pleased. Angelus was not one to give praise easily. And Spike had waited for that praise for longer than he was willing to admit.
"Still," Angelus continued. "Now that I'm back, you won't have to worry about strategy anymore."
"Oh?" Darla asked, perking up. "You intend to replace Spike as my champion?"
Angelus chuckled indulgently. "Of course not. You don't need a champion anymore, or to worry your pretty head about any of this. Now that I'm back, you don't have to play at being Master anymore."
"Play at being Master?" Darla said, her voice dangerously sweet and even. She only spoke like that when her temper was about to break.
Angelus didn't seem to pick up the warning signs. He just cupped her cheek and smiled at her. "Of course you've done a fine job, but it's best for the family if I'm Master."
Darla's hand darted between their bodies and Angelus' screamed in pain. Spike winced, making a good guess as to what exactly it was that Darla had gotten her claws into.
Her voice was icy when she spoke. "I spent almost a century taking orders from a castrated vampire who couldn't hunt on his own. If you think I'm going to do that again. . ."
Angelus whimpered and Spike grinned. Watching the old fart get taken down a peg was the best entertainment he could think of.
Almost as if she could hear his thoughts, Darla fixed her gaze on him. "Don't you have something to do?"
"Right, I'll just let you two get reacquainted," Spike said to excuse himself. As much as he wanted to watch, he knew that Darla's wrath could be a sloppy thing, and he didn't want any of it spilling over onto him.
As he left the not-so-happy couple behind, he couldn't help but smile at what a brilliant plan luring Riley into a fight with the Slayer had been. Wanting to share the moment with someone, he set off for the Slayer's room.
To his surprise he found she wasn't there. Shrugging he began to follow her scent through the tunnels. With each step it became more and more obvious which way she had gone, as he got closer and closer to the surface.
Cursing he realized that the guards must have gone to watch the fight too. He'd have to talk to them about that. Not that they could have stopped the Slayer, but still.
As he passed by the two sentries who were joking about Angelus' return, he growled, and made sure to remember their faces for later. Right now he had to find the Slayer before she got into who knew what kind of trouble.
He began to hurry. He wasn't sure why she had left, but none of the scenarios he came up with comforted him. He caught up to her as she was passing a park, and immediately noticed she was carrying a duffle bag that looked full.
"Buffy," he called out as he approached.
She turned at the sound of her name, but she didn't look happy to see him.
"Go away," she said.
"Not a chance," he told her, as he started to walk beside her. "What's with the bag?"
"I'm leaving," she said refusing to look at him.
"Yeah I picked up on that, what with the having left and all. But why? Thought we were having fun."
"Fun?!" she stopped and turned on him. "Learning computers is not fun. And fighting people so you can win bets is not fun. And watching strange vampires kill and. . . you know, is not fun."
Actually, except for the first part, it all sounded like a bit of a blast to Spike. Then it occurred to him what Angelus and Darla must have looked like to her given her own past.
"Look, I'm sorry, pet. Didn't realize that Angelus might bother you, he's kind of. . . Look don't worry about Darla, she had the time of her life. Always liked it rough and they go way back."
"Yeah, well. . . that's not the point." She started walking again.
"So what is the point?" he asked her, exasperated.
"It doesn't matter."
He grabbed her arm, pulling her to halt, which was not an easy thing to do. "Yeah, it does matter. At least to me it does. You're upset and I can't make it better if I don't know why."
The way she looked at him, he could tell that he was getting to her, that she was on the verge of telling him what had gotten under her skin.
"You just want to use me to fight for you." She was trying to sound defiant, but he could hear the doubt in her voice.
He was starting to break through whatever wall she had thrown up. And it was becoming clearer and clearer what was wrong.
"Not for me, with me," he corrected her. "Come on, I know you loved sparing with me. Think of what it would be like, you and me, back to back, together against the world, or at least the army."
"Yeah, that's what you said before," she shot back. "But that's not how it is. There's no fighting and there's all these other people, and a plan I don't think I can do, and it's all too complicated."
He half expected her to stomp her foot in frustration, and he understood. Things weren't exactly the way he would have made them in a perfect world. Seeing Darla and Angelus back together made him realize that he'd outgrown the family. Too many years of just him and Dru he supposed. He'd stay to get Angelus sorted, because they were family, but then he was going to be off. He wanted things simpler too.
"I know," he brushed a strand of hair away from her face. "Truth is I'm starting to get fed up with all this planning and strategy stuff myself. Maybe we should just storm the castle. That'd be fun, huh?"
"Look, if it was just about me, that's exactly what I'd do. But Angelus, he's the one I told you about remember? The one they did the experiments on?" She nodded again. "I got to think about him too, and the rest of them. They're family, if they weren't, hell I'd say let's you and me run off, have some fun. I promise, just hang in there a bit longer, and I'll show you a real good time, okay?"
Before she could answer, something clattered at their feet. They both looked down to see a metal canister with gas pouring out of it.
"What the fuck?" Spike asked, unalarmed. He was a vampire, and he knew the gas wouldn't affect him. It took him a moment to remember that Buffy did need to breathe.
"You all right?" he asked, putting an arm around her to move her away from the rising gas.
She coughed and shook her head.
"Let her go!" a man ordered.
Spike looked in the direction of the voice, and saw man with a gas mask in camouflage, holding a gun. Obviously one of the Initiative soldiers.
"Bugger," Spike said as he tried to figure out the best way to get Buffy away from both the gas and the armed man.
That's when he realized that they were surrounded. He'd been so wrapped up in trying to coax the Slayer back home, that he hadn't been paying attention to his surroundings. He couldn't risk fighting his way out, not if Buffy wasn't a hundred percent.
He was about to pick her up and make a run for it, when he felt a slight electrical shock go through his body. It was painful but not too bad, although it caused him to drop Buffy.
Then the soldiers were there. One of the soldiers grabbed Buffy, pulling her away, as one of the others hit him again with one of the taser like guns. This time the jolt was about ten times greater.
His legs gave way, as his muscles refused to respond. He could hear the soldiers speaking around him just before he blacked out.
"Graham, stay with the girl, but keep out of sight. We don't want another HST to try and make a meal of her, and she shouldn't remember any of this. No one in this town ever does."
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